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Thousand Smiles, November 3 and 4

Our International Service team, lead by Johnny Watson, will be returning to Ensenada on November 6th and 7th. Thousand Smiles, a 501c3 Foundation whose resources come from Rotary Clubs, volunteers, grants and other donations, is dedicated to providing free medical and dental care to children, with special emphasis on free maxillo-facial surgeries and dental work to underprivileged children in Mexico who suffer from facial deformities such as Cleft lip and palate.

What happens in a typical quick but action-packed weekend in Ensenada, at the Clinic?  Rotarians volunteers arrive on a Friday and medical personnel participate in a screening clinic for patients.  Professionals spend the day screening patients and getting the operating room ready for Saturday’s surgeries.  Instruments have to be cleaned, supply carts loaded, for the multiple-discipline surgical procedures. Each clinic treats 70-125 patients over the weekend.

Cleft lip and palate cause feeding, speech and hearing problems, as well as a social stigma because of the disfiguring appearance. In the United States, these problems are recognized at birth and usually fixed before the child reaches one year of age.  But because of poverty, Third World families cannot afford the surgery, and the patients may have to wait till they are well advanced in childhood before help is administered.

Non-professional Rotarians are busy on Friday helping with organizing supplies, and making and serving lunch to the volunteers, as well as the patients and their families, most of whom have traveled a long way to be there. 

As the clinic is supported by several Rotary Districts, many of the doctors are American from Southern California, like San Diego (Chula Vista Club), and Los Angeles.  But local Mexican doctors volunteer too, and interns and ressidents learn a lot by assisting. Plans for the future include making dentures for financially strapped adults.  The project needs more rooms at the hospital, which is also handling its own work load, and a building to house x-ray equipment and facilities.

At the May 5-6, 2017 clinic Dr. Brad Baker from the Escondido Rotary Club presented a check for $2,000 to Dr. Dave Irwin from the Escondido Rotary Foundation.The Escondido Rotary Club has been a long time supporter of Thousand Smiles. Many thanks for their ongoing support.